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Choosing the Least Evil: a Compromise With Evil?

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theestevearnold
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Example: Obama and Romney promoted policies based on immoral principals. I voted for Romney because, overall, he was less evil.

Defense: If I hadn't had voted for the lesser evil, my abstention would've increased the greater evil's percentage which, in effect, would've empowered him.

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Example: Obama and Romney promoted policies based on immoral principals. I voted for Romney because, overall, he was less evil.

Defense: If I hadn't had voted for the lesser evil, my abstention would've increased the greater evil's percentage which, in effect, would've empowered him.

Here's where I've been politically over the last several years. I don't think I'm disagreeing with you exactly, but I'm curious to see whether or not you (or others) see a conflict between our positions... or whether my ideas are simply thought wrong.

I don't believe that it is always worth my time and energy to try to discern between two evils. Beyond lost time and energy, I believe that there are additional considerations. Specifically, that when I focus on these sorts of matters, and commit myself to arguing for a position because, "while evil, it is slightly less evil than its alternative," I lose a certain amount of passion and purpose. I do not enjoy it. I also disdain the conversations that inevitably result, where it is now an open question of whether I *have* compromised my principles -- a question I think that is understandable, even if it can eventually be answered satisfactorily; this, I believe, is a result one can routinely expect, and it needs to be considered when staking out one's initial position.

So, for myself, I find the differences with respect to... uh, evilness among parties (typically) and candidates (typically) to be small enough that it is not worth it to 1) try to suss out, and then 2) take up the defense of one versus another, with all of the potential headache and confusion that entails. In my lifetime, I believe that I have observed things get worse politically (meaning: moving away from freedom) as a trend, and I think that this happens under Democrats and Republicans alike. Could the case be made that we move away from freedom slightly more slowly under one than the other? Perhaps, though I think that such a case could have a compelling rival, and I would expect that argument to live long into the night.

Rather than try simply to go to Hell more slowly, I would rather take all of the time and attention that I would otherwise use to argue for Republicans or Democrats (or against them specifically in comparison to the other) to do what I can to argue for the principles by which they are both judged poorly, and of which there can be no resultant question of my "having compromised." I'd rather argue for things I can argue with the last reserve of my passion, and for me, that does not mean arguing for the "lesser of two evils," but the good.

***

That being said.

If I were in a situation where I believed that it was sincerely worth my time to investigate or vote for or stump for for the lesser of two evils, because of the large discrepancy between them, I would. In the 30s, if one's choices were between FDR and Hitler for President, then absolutely, it is supremely important to support Roosevelt with something like all one's heart.

But I cannot view Romney and Obama as being an equivalent case. I find the modern parties to be much more alike than different, and nearly equal in awfulness, albeit awful in slightly different ways. I completely understand it when people who find their personal interests more directly assaulted by one party typically view the other party as the "lesser evil." Honestly, I suspect that in alternating presidencies, and splitting Congress and judgeships and etc., it is probably our best current scenario for keeping hold of whatever freedoms remain, for whatever time we can, while we fight the more fundamental battle for reason.

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I agree with your sentiment: I am an idealist, and supporting anything less than my ideals feels wrong.

I'm trying to filter my feelings through logic because my feelings might be wrong.

I would've voted for FDR if he ran against Hitler. But that doesn't imply that I've given up on my ideals.

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Inevitably, any conversation about American politics leads to using metaphors. DonAthos, you seem to have run far afield with examples, until you brought it all back to reality: fight the more fundamental battle for reason. How's this for a metaphor: The party of Moe, the party of Larry, and the party of Curly are engaging in an eye-gouging/face-slapping contest as the yacht in their command is rapidly sinking. Moe represents corporate-cronyism, Curly represents universal poverty, and Larry is an anarchist. All are evil, all have abandoned any rational ideology.

Seriously, at the heart of our dilemma is (1) the pseudo-religious belief that democracy is some magical panacea. Democracy is, by definition, the rule of the majority. The reason for the Bill of Rights was to prevent OPPRESSIVE majorities, and yet, it seems we cannot escape the effect of oppressive majorities. And (2), their is no guiding comprehensive philosophy suitable for the majority, other than Objectivism. Presently, the majority reject it.

So, what options are left? At the polls, one can abstain, or vote libertarian, or the party of Larry, in effect, the least likely to do any harm, because he won't win. In 2000, I vote for a Rasta-Nafarian candidate, as an option to Bush & Gore. More fundamentally, argue tactfully with voters willing to listen to reason. But to directly address the opening posting: They're all evil, so evil wins.

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Indeed, I voted for Gary Johnson as well. However, we all knew he would not win, regardless of his ideology. Strategically, polls may move closer to the libertarian option, but not necessarily the Libertarian Party. We can only hope.

Incidentally, who is Dr Thomas Stevens?

Edited by Repairman
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We may never see much change in our life-time, however that is the way America's legal process was designed. While a third-party candidates may never win, it is likely that splintering factions take large voting blocks with them, re-grouping under traditional parties with new platforms. The Election of 1912 was one such election, as Progressive Republicans shifted alliances, regrouping under the Democrats of 1932. The third-party effort of George Wallace, combined with the party defection of Strom Thurmon, and the peace-nik platform of George McGovern resulted in many Southern Democrats and Cold Warriors to shift to the Republican camp. Reagan was the beneficiary. We have yet to see the long-term results of this "Tea-Party" trend and the move toward homosexual rights and marijuana states' rights, but change is inevitable.

All said, none of today's leading political figures argues in favor of reason for reason's sake. This still spells trouble. The real argument may be preceded by popular entertainers, rather than politicians.

Edited by Repairman
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Does Mr Johnson's party receive any electoral college votes?

 

 

So barring any significant change in the current mechanics of the 'two party' system voting for a candidate not in either of the two parties , isn't 'really' voting for a candidate. I doubt I will see a change in the 'two party' system as long as I continue to vote.

You know, this is not really to the point I was trying to make, but on this familiar subject...

I think it's funny, the idea that a vote not cast for one of the two parties "isn't really a vote," because a third party candidate doesn't typically have a chance of winning. Where I live, certainly, and in many more places, I'd bet that an individual knows the outcomes of most major political races well ahead of time, with or without their vote or any other support they could offer. My state is going blue in the next Presidential election; the candidates hardly matter to this prediction/guarantee. My vote for a Republican would be as meaningful in the sense of altering the outcome of the election as a vote for Mickey Mouse.

The only vote that's "real," by this standard, is in a closely contested race.

I think that the "meaning" of supporting a candidate, maybe as much as nine times out of ten (outside of Florida and Ohio, perhaps), is largely symbolic. It matters to me, to whom I give my vote, perhaps, but not much to the electoral college.

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If you're saying that participation in the elector process in futile, because you're in the minority, I would disagree. Futility is in producing a worthy candidate, a candidate brave enough to dismiss altruism and collectivism, because it is evil, and to promote individualism and capitalism, because it is vital to man's existence. I fully agree that most people know the outcomes of most elections in advance, and perhaps it is merely out of personal belief that people go to the polls knowing that they are voting for a loser. But it gives me satisfaction knowing that MY vote was counted, and that some prospective would-be public administrator may wish to know how he might earn it. While this may sound a bit fantastic, let's just say that I'm an eternal optimist. I say this, because it is not so futile to presume that one day, reason may become popular-maybe even vastly popular. But if the only people who show up at the polls are those that vote for Stooge Red, or Stooge Blue, well, I guess that's all you get.

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In my pessimistic , conspiracy theorist worst mood, I can only see the praetorian guard, made of the entrenched legislatures working with the media, through the two party system as routinely offering up their 'best 13' or so out of 330+ million each election cycle to whittle down to two alternatives.

It is over simplified , but not too cynical a view. The are myriad factors that swirl around the cultural rot and the current game of politics, so anyway.

One does have to admit that other than the two party's, the others are candidates in name only.

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Example: Obama and Romney promoted policies based on immoral principals. I voted for Romney because, overall, he was less evil.

Defense: If I hadn't had voted for the lesser evil, my abstention would've increased the greater evil's percentage which, in effect, would've empowered him.

Problem is, Romney wasn't the least evil. He was the least evil with a chance to win, but eliminating all the options that don't have a chance to win would require a separate argument.

As it stands, I'm against doing that, I think that often (for instance in the last US elections) there is more value in supporting a good option that has no chance, than supporting a slightly less evil one that does.

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If there was an ideal third party Radicals for Capitalism candidate running for president, & I knew he couldn't win, I'd still vote for him.

Until then, if I abstain, or vote for semi-flawed libertarians, who don't stand a chance, I'm effectively increasing the worst candidate's chances.

In staunchly red or blue states, voting for my favorite loser or a protest vote could be a good thing.

In swing states, voting for the lesser of two evils is a vote against the greater evil.

This sucks. I want a hero to come along. I haven't given up. Until then.......I vote Republican.

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  • 1 month later...

Beyond lost time and energy, I believe that there are additional considerations. Specifically, that when I focus on these sorts of matters, and commit myself to arguing for a position because, "while evil, it is slightly less evil than its alternative," I lose a certain amount of passion and purpose. I do not enjoy it.

From the Comprachios:

 

"He is too young to understand the immorality of his course, but nature gives him an emotional warning: he does not like himself when he engages in deception, he feels dirty, unworthy, unclean.  This protest of a violated subconscious serves the same purpose as physical pain: it is the warning of a dangerous malfunctions or injury. . .  If he chooses to place some value above his own sense of himself, what he gradually kills is his self-esteem. . ."

 

Thank you for pointing that out, Don.  I didn't quite have a clear handle on this until now.  :thumbsup:

 

I would like, though I doubt will have the opportunity , to vote for a presidential candidate as opposed [to] against one.

Amen and Gary Johnson!

---

 

To vote for the lesser of two evils costs nothing except some portion of your pride in your self.

A third- or fourth- or nineteenth-party vote accomplishes nothing, except- . . .

 

But I cannot view Romney and Obama as being an equivalent case.

And how!

I would've voted for Romney if he had demonstrated some principle- even the wrong principles!  If I could see some conviction in something (not the Washington type of "conviction" but a real one!) then I could have voted for him in the hopes that ideas, as such, might have gotten some more attention.

 

But whatever.  There's always next election.

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To vote for the lesser of two evils costs nothing except some portion of your pride in your self.

Whether one feels pride depends on one's evaluation of what one is doing. I cannot imagine feeling more proud if I voted for Gary Johnson over Obama or Romney; or if I never voted at all.
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The subject of politics in the United States has become more like the subject of professional sports with much more money at stake. America's downward spiral is in part the result of a lack of sound and well-reasoned philosophy. America desperately need an ideology supporting laissez-faire capitalism as well as personal liberty. The Libertarian Party is not the perfect solution, but they're near enough for now.

 

Tadjones, if you think you're throwing away a vote for the candidate of least harm (i.e. Libertarian), and instead voting for one of the two mainstream candidates, then you are casting a vote for the most harmful candidate, or second most harmful candidate. Either way, you are doing more harm. If it's only a matter of winning, then it's only a game. 

 

As I've stated earlier, when enough people begin to support an idea, the candidate will show up. Boycott the Republicans and Democrats, even if the nation continues its spiral downward. When addressing the subject to acquaintances, I always reject either party, and express an objective opinion on the subject. The person-to-person approach may be inefficient, but it satisfies my sense of pride to be right.

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I don't vote because voting is an endorsement of outcome regardless of how you voted. The Constitution was supposed to remove certain rights from the political sphere - liberties that couldn't be taken away through a simple electoral process - but the Constitution has been so eroded that nearly all of your rights are back on the table for the taking. By voting, you implicitly bind yourself to the terms of the system in which you vote, and so you endorse the potential outcome that your rights may be taken away.

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There are better ways to do good than through voting. Your vote doesn't matter, because there isn't a "Capitalism" voting block. 

 

You will do more good politically convincing people to not abuse their kids and to live rationally. 

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I don't vote because voting is an endorsement of outcome regardless of how you voted. The Constitution was supposed to remove certain rights from the political sphere - liberties that couldn't be taken away through a simple electoral process - but the Constitution has been so eroded that nearly all of your rights are back on the table for the taking. By voting, you implicitly bind yourself to the terms of the system in which you vote, and so you endorse the potential outcome that your rights may be taken away.

I endorse no such thing. I've read the ballot, it mentioned nothing about endorsing any ideas or ideology. It in fact contained a very narrow question: who, out of the people listed here, do you want to occupy this here political office for the next 4 years.

That's it. I stated nothing else by voting.

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I don't vote because voting is an endorsement of outcome regardless of how you voted. The Constitution was supposed to remove certain rights from the political sphere - liberties that couldn't be taken away through a simple electoral process - but the Constitution has been so eroded that nearly all of your rights are back on the table for the taking. By voting, you implicitly bind yourself to the terms of the system in which you vote, and so you endorse the potential outcome that your rights may be taken away.

 

Not voting endorses an outcome as well.  It endorses permitting others to select the winning candidate in your absence.  If there is a distinction between the candidates that will make a difference in how the govt impacts human lives (starting with your own) then not voting could permit others to help make life worse than it would or could have been.   

Edited by Craig24
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